By Simon Wilson, medical negligence expert and senior solicitor at Neil Hudgell Solicitors
Another case in which the shocking treatment of an elderly patient in a care has been caught on camera has hit the headlines, further highlighting the need for major change throughout the care home industry.
Widow Freda Jobson’s family had become so concerned that they used a camera, hidden in a clock, to capture footage from inside the home.
They had been worried about possible neglect, linked to bedsores on the 84-year-old’s body at Keldgate Manor Residential Home in Beverley, East Yorkshire.
The video footage they captured however, revealed much more.
Staff can be seen mimicking her groaning, asking her if she was a witch and whether she had ever practiced black magic, and removing a bandage which had been used over a bedsore on her elbow and wrapping it around her head.
Shocking, but unfortunately not an isolated incident in care homes across the UK.
When plans were first announced in 2014 for guidance to be issued on how families should go about secretly filming within care homes, it predictably brought initial objections about breaches of human rights and the growing ‘big brother society’.
However, this case, which was reported on the front page of the Hull Daily Mail, was a clear example of why the Care Quality Commission (CQC) was right to issue such guidance last month.
I have come into contact with many families of elderly people suffering from abuse or neglect in care homes as part of my work at Neil Hudgell Solicitors. We have active cases now where families have turned detectives and used cameras or other recording devices to find out what happens after they leave their loved ones behind.
My worry is that still, within the care industry, lessons are not being learned.
There is still a minority of staff who are mistreating elderly patients, showing them no respect and stripping them of their dignity.
There are still too many care home providers not doing enough to prevent it and ensure residents get the care they deserve.
Concerned relatives will do all they can to uncover the truth when they feel something is wrong, and are quite right to do so.
The CQC guidance advice, issued in February, was that families with concerns should first raise them with the care provider (but we know from vast experience that this often proves unfruitful and frustrating).
In terms of filming, the advice is to seek permission from the individual being cared for, if possible. Equipment should only be used in a person’s private room, and the privacy of anyone recorded must also be considered, including staff and visitors.
These guidelines are helpful, and will hopefully play a role in holding neglectful care homes and care staff to account going forward.
They give families an extra option, and anything that assists those like the family of Mrs Jobson, and puts greater focus on the care industry as a whole to improve and then uphold the highest of standards, is a positive step, no matter what those in the care industry say.